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What is Medical Microbiology?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Medical microbiology is a branch within the field of microbiology which focuses on microorganisms of medical interest. Medical microbiologists study organisms which can cause diseases in people, looking at the life cycle of such organisms, how they cause infections in humans, how they spread, what they do to the human body, and how they can be eradicated. People in this field may work in research labs studying microorganisms, or they may work in diagnostic labs, performing tests to identify disease-causing organisms in patients and making treatment recommendations.

Bacteria, fungi, protozoans, and viruses can all cause disease in humans. Humans have been colonized by microorganisms from the beginning of time, and microorganisms are constantly evolving and changing to thwart human attempts at controlling them. The field of medical microbiology is engaged with identifying new microorganisms, monitoring changes in rapidly mutating species, and dealing with ongoing challenges in microbiology, ranging from the development of resistance to antibiotics in bacteria to contamination of water supplies with protozoans.

Medical microbiologists are interested in identifying and categorizing the organisms that they see.
Medical microbiologists are interested in identifying and categorizing the organisms that they see.

Like other researchers in microbiology, medical microbiologists are interested in identifying and categorizing the organisms they see. This information can help people see what they are dealing with, and it can assist with the development of treatments. Understanding the relationship between organisms can also be important when researchers explore methods of transmission. The identification process can also include inquiries into the origin and history of an organism; learning where a flu virus developed, for example, can be important to understanding how an epidemic occurred.

Microorganisms are constantly evolving to thwart human attempts at controlling them.
Microorganisms are constantly evolving to thwart human attempts at controlling them.

In addition to being interested in microorganisms themselves, the field of medical microbiology is also concerned with immunology, looking at human defenses against such organisms and how they can be improved or bolstered. Researchers also study pathology, the course that disease takes in the body, and epidemiology, the science concerned with how and why diseases spread. Medical microbiologists have skills which can be applied to emerging disease outbreaks, ongoing problems with microorganisms, and a variety of other medical challenges.

Medical microbiology involves applying knowledge gained by studying microorganisms to medicine.
Medical microbiology involves applying knowledge gained by studying microorganisms to medicine.

While in medical school, many doctors spend some time studying medical microbiology, with some physicians spending more time studying this subject than others. Understanding how microorganisms work is important for physicians, because this knowledge can be applied to diagnosis and treatment of infections. Some doctors may go on to focus on the research end of medical microbiology, working to develop new methods of fighting microorganisms and conducting clinical studies to amass information on new drugs, the effectiveness of proposed treatment protocols, and other issues.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon225195

The information given here is very useful. I liked it. I would like to know if students with PCB in +2 can pursue this.

anon175598

brief and concise information about microbiology. It really broadens my scope on the subject area.

anon151173

good. I was able to clearly understand the subject of interest and how it functions.

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    • Medical microbiologists are interested in identifying and categorizing the organisms that they see.
      By: perfectmatch
      Medical microbiologists are interested in identifying and categorizing the organisms that they see.
    • Microorganisms are constantly evolving to thwart human attempts at controlling them.
      By: kasto
      Microorganisms are constantly evolving to thwart human attempts at controlling them.
    • Medical microbiology involves applying knowledge gained by studying microorganisms to medicine.
      By: WavebreakmediaMicro
      Medical microbiology involves applying knowledge gained by studying microorganisms to medicine.
    • Many doctors study medical microbiology while in medical school.
      By: michaeljung
      Many doctors study medical microbiology while in medical school.
    • Medical microbiology can help researchers understand disease transmission.
      By: Farina3000
      Medical microbiology can help researchers understand disease transmission.